Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has approved the reinstatement of a total of 1,499 out of the 3,000 workers recently sacked by the state government.
The workers had been sacked for falsification of academic certificates, falsification of age and personal data, having outstanding disciplinary cases and those categorised as non-existing staff, popularly called ghost workers.
The decision to reinstate the workers was reached at the weekly state executive council meeting in Ibadan yesterday, and was sequel to the recommendations of the panel constituted by Governor Ajimobi to review the cases of the affected workers.
All the reinstated workers would be paid their salaries during the period in full. The 13-member panel was headed by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adebayo Ojo.
It would be recalled that the immediate past government in the state had engaged the services of a consultant - Captain Consulting to do a thorough audit of the workers in the state, with the latter using certain criteria to determine those who had falsified their ages.
One of the criteria used by the firm was the assumption that every pupil would have been admitted to Primary school in the 1960s and 1970s at the minimum age of 6 years and would sit for the Primary School Leaving Certificate at the age of 12 years, among other considerations.
But the Ajimobi panel observed that some of the children of educated parents or brilliant ones of indigent parents often enjoyed double promotion in their academic progress.
Besides, it also noted that some pupils in the 1960s and 1970s, got enrolled to start school at ages 4 and 5, either because of the influences of their educated or elite parents, or dearth of children of enrolment age in their locality.
The panel also based its recommendations on the appeal by the governor that the panel should be very liberal, considerate and humane in the discharge of its assignment and his (Ajimobi’s) charge that it should work in accordance with the well-known legal maxim that ``it is better to set free a thousand guilty persons than to convict an innocent man’’.
According to the panel, as much as the government wanted to begin the reform of the public service by removing the bad eggs from its system, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove charges of age falsification against the affected workers.
Also, it was discovered by the review panel that, most of the workers, by the time they were collecting their testimonials from their various schools, they were not mature enough to discover the discrepancies between their real ages and the ones written on their respective testimonials.
The government also based its decision on mass appeals from a cross section of the people and well meaning individuals, both within and outside the state. A total of 357 officers who were not cleared by the panel would, however, be compulsorily retired from civil service on their present grade levels.
Governor Ajimobi had based the sack of the workers on the need to reform the state public service which he said had been found out to be riddled with inefficiency and gross corruption.